Prince Harry fails to show up for court, will give evidence on Tuesday

Prince Harry fails to show up for court, will give evidence on Tuesday
Prince Harry flew from Los Angeles to London on Sunday evening, but was not available to give evidence on Monday.
PHOTO: Reuters

LONDON - Prince Harry failed to appear on Monday (June 5) at the High Court in London where he is suing a British tabloid publisher, with the judge saying he was surprised by his absence and a lawyer for the papers calling his no-show "extraordinary".

Prince Harry, will face hours of questioning in the witness box on Tuesday, becoming the first senior British royal to give evidence in court in 130 years.

He is one of more than 100 other high-profile figures suing the Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, for alleged phone hacking and other unlawful behaviour between 1991 and 2011.

The trial began in May, as lawyers representing Prince Harry and three other test claimants attempted to prove that unlawful information gathering was carried out with the knowledge and approval of senior editors and executives.

Prince Harry's allegations are the focus of the trial this week, and the Prince had been expected to attend on Monday.

His lawyer David Sherborne told the judge, Mr Timothy Fancourt, that the Prince had flown from his home in Los Angeles on Sunday evening, after attending his daughter Lilibet's second birthday, but was not available to give evidence on Monday.

"His travel arrangements are such and his security arrangements are such that it is a little bit tricky," Mr Sherborne told the packed courtroom.

Mr Fancourt said he was "surprised" after he asked that the first witness in each of the four test cases appear in court on the first day of their individual cases.


MGN's lawyer Andrew Green said it was "absolutely extraordinary" that the Prince would not be there on Monday, and accused his legal team of wasting the court's time, saying he had expected to start cross-examining the royal.

Mr Green is seeking to question Prince Harry for more than a day over 33 articles, which the Prince says were based on material which was unlawfully obtained.

It means Prince Harry could be returning to give further evidence on Wednesday.

MGN, now owned by Reach, apologised at the start of the trial for one admitted occasion that the Sunday People had unlawfully sought information about Prince Harry, accepting he was entitled to compensation.

The publisher previously admitted its titles were involved in phone hacking and has settled more than 600 claims at a cost of more than £100 million (S$168 million) in damages and costs. 

But it has rejected all Prince Harry's other allegations, saying he had no evidence for his claims.

Buckingham Palace is likely to feature prominently in Prince Harry's cross-examination, with MGN arguing that some information had come from royal aides.

In court documents, Prince Harry says the impact of the alleged unlawful activities was to cause him "huge distress" and paranoia, blaming it for the breakdown of his relationship with former girlfriend Chelsy Davy.

"Prince Harry was one of the most written-about individuals in these three newspapers," said Mr Sherborne, noting that some 2,500 articles had appeared about Prince Harry's private life in the MGN titles. 

"Stories about him were some of the most likely to drive sales and the suggestion that there was just one instance of unlawful information gathering at one of these newspapers, we say, is plainly implausible."

This week's appearance will be the second time in 2023 Prince Harry has attended the High Court, after joining singer Elton John and others for hearings in March over their lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mail tabloids.

Prince Harry, the fifth-in-line to the throne, has barely been out of the headlines in the last six months.

He is in engaged in several legal battles with the British press, including a similar phone-hacking case against Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper arm.

The Prince has also accused his family and their aides in his memoir and Netflix documentary series of colluding with tabloids. The palace has not commented on those accusations.

ALSO READ: Prince Harry says tabloid's journalists are 'criminals'

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